Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government on May 17, 2020, officially announced the extension of the lockdown till May 31.
The announcement came after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India (GoI) issued an order, on May 18, under the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005, for extension of the lockdown till May 31, 2020. The State has decided the curfew would remain in effect as it is.
The Government said as the number of COVID-19 cases has been continuously rising, the circumstances require restrictions through curfew.
The Government also attributed the cause of a surge in COVID-19 positive cases to the return of over 1.5 lakh people who were stranded in other States. Over 60, 000 more are have applied for passes and would be returning to the State in the upcoming days.
The Government has urged the people returning from other States to behave as responsible citizens and follow home-quarantine strictly for the sake of the people of the State.
Currently, the number of active cases in Himachal has risen to 80, out of which half of the cases have appeared within the last two weeks owing to State’s Government’s lackadaisical attitude towards taking sufficient measures and well-thought strategy for management of the mass movement of people into the State.
The tally of active cases is 32 as one of the patients in Kangra’s Jamanabad recovered and tested negative for COVID-19. The tally for COVID-19 deaths has also risen to three as two deaths were reported within the last two weeks. The Health Department statistics say that a total of 17417 persons have been tested in the State till May 17 and 21343 people were under surveillance.
On May 17, the State reported two more positive cases. Both cases were reported from Hamirpur district’s Naduan area.
In the first case, a 59-year-old, who had returned from Mumbai in a taxi with five others, tested positive. He hails from gram panchayat Kardi village.
The second person who tested positive belongs to Tayongli village. He had returned from Mumbai in a taxi as well which he shared with two others.
Both cases were transferred to Bhota COVID hospital, an official of the Health Department confirmed. The Deputy Commissioner, Hamirpur, Harikesh Meena, has ordered sealing the areas from where the cases were reported.
The salient features of the new guidelines are as follows:
States to decide various Zones
Under the new guidelines, States and Union Territories (UTs) will now delineate Red, Green and Orange zones taking into consideration the parameters shared by the Health Ministry. The zones can be a district, or a municipal corporation/ municipality or even smaller administrative units such as sub-divisions, etc, as decided by States and UTs.
Within the red and orange zones, containment and buffer zones will be demarcated by the local authorities, after taking into consideration the Health Ministry guidelines.
Within the containment zones, only essential activities shall be allowed. Strict perimeter control would be maintained, and no movement of persons would be allowed, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining the supply of essential goods and services. Buffer zones are areas adjoining each containment zone, where new cases are more likely to appear. In the buffer zones, more caution needs to be exercised.
Activities Prohibited throughout the Country
A limited number of activities will continue to remain prohibited throughout the country. These include:
- all domestic and international air travel of passengers, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and for security purposes or purposes as permitted by MHA;
- metro rail services;
- running of schools, colleges, educational and training/coaching institutions;
- hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services, except for the running of canteens in bus depots, railway stations and airports;
- places of large public gatherings such as cinemas, shopping malls, gymnasiums entertainment parks, etc.;
- social, political, cultural and similar gatherings and other large congregations; and, access to religious places/places of worship for the public.
However, online/ distance learning would be permitted and encouraged; and, restaurants will be allowed to operate kitchens for home delivery of food items.
Opening up of Sports Activities
Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open only for sports activities. However, spectators will not be allowed in these complexes.
Activities permitted with restrictions
To facilitate the movement of persons, various modes of transport have already been opened up. Movement of individuals by trains has been permitted earlier by MHA through an order dated 11.05.2020. Further, evacuation of foreign nationals from India, the return of stranded Indian nationals from abroad, sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers, and intra-State and inter-State movement of stranded persons by bus and train, will continue to be allowed.
Inter-State movement of vehicles and buses has also been allowed with mutual consent of the concerned States/ UTs. Intra-State movement of vehicles and buses can be decided by the States and UTs.
National Directives for COVID-19 management
The guidelines specify the National Directives for COVID-19 management, which would apply to public places and workplaces.
Under these guidelines, wearing of face covers is compulsory; spitting will be punishable with fine as may be prescribed in accordance with its laws, rules or regulations by the State/ UT local authority; and social distancing is to be followed by all persons in public places and during transport. Marriage-related gathering should not have more than 50 guests. For funerals/ last rites, the maximum number of persons allowed has been kept at 20. Consumption of liquor, paan, gutkha and tobacco etc., is not allowed in public places.
The National Directives also stipulate additional requirements for workplaces. The practice of work from home (WfH) should be followed to the extent possible, and staggering of work hours should be adopted in respect of all offices and other establishments. There should be provision for thermal scanning, hand wash and sanitizers at all entry and exit points and common areas; and all workplaces and other sensitive locations are to be sanitized regularly. In workplaces, social distancing would also need to be ensured through adequate distance between workers, adequate gaps between shifts, staggering the lunch break of staff and so on.
Stipulations regarding Shops and Markets
Local authorities should ensure that shops and markets open with staggered timings, to ensure social distancing. All shops should also have to ensure six feet distance (2 gaz ki doori) among customers and also not allow more than 5 persons at one time.
Night Curfew will continue to remain in force on the movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities, between 7 pm and 7 am.
Protection for Vulnerable Persons
Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, should stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.
All activities to be Permitted other than the limited number of those that are prohibited or restricted
All other activities will be permitted except those which are specifically prohibited under these guidelines. However, in containment zones, only essential activities would be allowed, as mentioned earlier.
States to decide on activities within various Zones
States/ UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain other activities in the various zones, or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary.
Use of Aarogya Setu
Employers on best effort basis should ensure that Aarogya Setu mobile application is installed by all employees having compatible mobile phones.
District authorities have been asked to advise individuals to install the Aarogya Setu application on compatible mobile phones and regularly update their health status on the app. State/ UT Governments have been asked continue to strictly enforce the lockdown guidelines and they shall not dilute these guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in any manner.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.